Thursday, May 28, 2009

Decluttering My Computer

I spend a lot of my working time and personal time on my personal computers. Both of them have become cluttered with files and icons on the desktop and it has really bothered me. So I started doing some research on the best way to declutter and found a few articles that have really helped me. I took some bits and pieces of each article and have begun the process of decluttering.

1. I created a temporary folder in the "My Documents" folder. I call it "ADesktop" which prompts me to remember that this is where all of my desktop icons are. We will address organizing your file folders in awhile. You can access all of your programs from this folder and totally cleans off your desktop. It reminds me of a messy desk. You are so much more effective if you file your paperwork in folders in a drawer and clear your personal desk to work. Your computer operates the same way. You can clear up your desktop and organize your "ADesktop" folder so that finding your programs is one click away. Put a nice simple wallpaper on your screen and the computer looks slick and nice.

2. I organize all of my folders whether they are email folders, computer folders, or paperwork folders in the same fashion. Let's use an example of organizing my kids homework files. The main folder that I would create would be called "Kids Homework". Then I would create a sub folder within that folder called "Kevin" which is named for one of my kids. If necessary I would create folders under the "Kevin" folder called "8th grade" or "9th grade". I would then file the document under the appropriate sub-sub-sub folder. What you are doing is creating a hierarchy of folders so that you can easily find the homework paper that you are looking for without having to search through a mound of papers and wasting time. I do the same thing with my paperwork files and plan on doing a separate blog post on that in the future. What you are trying to create is an organizational structure on your computer so that finding documents is easy and quick.

3. Organize your bookmarks in the same way as you organize your folders. Create a hierarchy structure for your bookmarks in categories that make sense to you. Don't be afraid to create a three tier structure if need be. You will save so much time this way. Also, when you organize your bookmarks you can get rid of old and outdated links that you no longer need.

4. Be prepared to put things in the recycle bin. Be judicious about it though just as you do off the computer. Decide if the file is no longer needed or has outlived its use and toss it. It takes some upfront work but it's a lot like cleaning the house..something you may not like to do but necessary for maintenance.

5. Use an online server for your documents, photos, and important bookmarks. I use google docs for my documents. It is safe and password protected and the best part about this is that I can access my documents from any computer anywhere. I use ofoto for my photos but there are many other online websites where you can upload your photos. Because my photos are very important to me I also back up my photos on a jump drive. Very few of my photos are on my hard drive because of the clutter. A lot of people might say "what if the internet crashes" or "what if google folds tomorrow" what would happen to those files that I have uploaded to the server? I guess I could say the same thing for my own desktop computer. It could crash tomorrow and I wouldn't be able to retrieve anything. But I don't see google going away any time soon and if it did, I would create a backup plan

6. I use igoogle a lot. I use the google desktop function to get all of my national news, local news, and weather reports and the google reader where I keep my blog subscriptions. Google reader is awesome for filing your favorite blogs in folders. The google desktop is awesome because you can have it all right on the desktop while you are working. It's all there and accessible. You can add "gadgets" and "widgets" for your favorite games or applications. I added a facebook widget to mine so I can also access facebook from my google desktop. You can check it all out and sign up at igoogle.

I love finding simple ways to perform my computer tasks and so excited that I have started to implement some of these things in my regular life. It definitely makes my computer experience much more pleasurable.

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